Ryan Newman received 350 texts after winning the Brickyard 400 last weekend. Not one of them was from a potential sponsor or team inquiring about his availability for next year, however, leaving his future up in the air.
Newman's future has been in doubt since he found out three weeks ago that he was losing his ride at Stewart-Haas Racing when the team brings in Kevin Harvick next season. As of now, Newman has yet to have lined up a ride.
"You can sit there and talk to somebody, but until the writing is on the paper and the ink is dried, you really don't know," Newman said Friday at Pocono Raceway. "I am in a situation where the phone has not rung off the hook with sponsors or car owners or manufacturers, or any of that. I didn't expect it to and I think some people kind of expect it to."
Last weekend's victory gives Newman optimism an eventual sponsor will materialize. Until a deal is signed, however, he knows nothing is official.
"I am working on what I need to work on, I feel, to be in a good, competitive position next year," he said. "The win helps, but it's not a light switch. It doesn't turn everything on bright. It helps and gives you a vision, but there is more to it than that. The $20 million sponsor just doesn't jump right after you. I wish it did, but it doesn't."
Sitting in 16th place and only 25 points out of the top 10, the immediate goal for Newman is securing a spot in NASCAR's Chase. A victory in the six remaining regular season races would likely secure him a playoff berth.
This weekend's race at Pocono represents an excellent chance for Newman to get that needed second win, too, because the "Tricky Triangle" shares similar characteristics to Indy.
That fact isn't lost on Newman. Further adding to his confidence, though, is that he will be driving the same car he finished fifth with in the June Pocono race and took to Victory Lane at Indy.
"There are no guarantees, but it's the same race car and I feel like we have been able to sharpen up some of the things that we did in the June race here," Newman said. "We have done a lot of testing since then, and obviously a lot of racing, and the Indianapolis race was huge.
"Based on our experience in the first race and carrying that same car and information over to Indianapolis, it has great potential for this weekend and that is why I am looking forward to it."